COVID-19 cuts camping season short

Emily Ness
Updated: May 24, 2020 10:36 PM

Typically, a picturesque place like Penmarallter would be filled with people on Memorial Day weekend. But in light of the pandemic, public and private campgrounds have had to wait until at least June 1st to open. While this has caused many in the industry to miss out on money, Pennie Burton, the owner of Penmarallter said missing out on memories hurts the most.


“We would be anywhere from three quarters to full on Memorial Day, so it’s not even just a big monetary loss, it’s more of an emotional loss for me because I’m a social person and I like being with the people,” Burton said.

Penmarallter has been in Burton’s family for just over 50 years. It was built by her parents in 1968.

“My mom and dad built the campground and they named it after us kids. It’s the first three letters of all four of our names. So there’s Pennie and I’m Pennie and there’s Marilyn, Allie and Terry,” Burton said.

Today, Burton operates the business with her husband Stan.

“We have 24 sites. They all have water and electric. They’re all pull through sites. We accept big rigs and we did accept tents, but this year, we’re not going to be able to,” Burton said.

Generally, Burton said Penmarallter would be open from May 1st to October 21st, but because of COVID-19, their season has been cut short.

“I’m ready to open. If the Governor told me tomorrow that we could open, I’d just take the doors off the shower building and we’d be open,” Burton said. “We’ve been preparing for weeks.”

Other losses include the business that Grandma’s Marathon brings the campground.

“Grandma’s starts a mile from here so almost everybody in here has something to do with Grandma’s. Whether they are a volunteer or a spectator or a participant,” Burton said.

What Burton said she feels is the biggest loss is the people and the things that they bring to the campground, however.

“We learn recipes. We learn about different parts of the country: ‘Oh I want to go there because so and so went there and they really liked it,’” Burton said.

In opening, Burton said she and her husband will enforce social distancing and enhance their cleaning measures.

“I know we can’t go crazy. We have to be respectful and responsible, but to just be able to say hi to your neighbor even if you can’t go to their camp site and sit with them like some of them used to, you can at least say hi and smile,” Burton said.

Despite these changes, Burton said over the years, camping has evolved as a whole.

“When my mom and dad bought this place in 1968, it was very small pop-ups, travel trailers, pick-up campers. Now they have evolved and you learn about it. Every year, there’s something different,” Burton said. “Last year, people wanted to hammock camp. That’s hanging in the trees camping.”

Burton said despite the hardship, they will get through it.

“We’re all going to get through it. We’re tough. That’s what Americans do. They pull together when times get tough,” Burton said.

And Burton said they look forward to opening.

In the meantime, people are allowed to camp in remote or dispersed sites as long as they are at least one mile away from developed campgrounds.


Emily Ness

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


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